UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992)
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Somehow this came to mind when I was brainstorming on what to write about.
I wanna try and find some films that are not as well-known as this one, next time.
There must be some films that are less known and deserve a wider audience. But now I´m stuck with this, pretty much a mainstream film.
The first Hollywood gig for the now well-known Emmerich, and he did a damn good job. Not only was it a success, it looks really, really good for a 20 million dollar flick.
He was known to deliver films that look more expensive than the budget would suggest, compared to the output of other directors with a similar budget. And keeping costs down is something they like in Hollywood.
Emmerich said he doesn`t like these kind of films, but yet he delivered. It was his entry into Hollywood, so he did what he was told to do.
He didn`t even know Van Damme and had to watch his earlier films to be able to cater to the fans. The naked Van Damme , the buttshot…it wasn`t in there cuz Emmerich is gay, it was something Van Damme exhibited in all of his earlier movies and was a sort of “must” shot.
Almost a trademark, a seal of approval.
The making of and the stories behind the scenes are pretty interesting, but I like that kinda stuff anyway. When I first saw it in theatres, I was a few minutes late, and missed the opening scene, in which Van Damme and Lundgren killed each other, only later did I see that. Weird for me,to be late for a Van Damme film, but it happened.
I must say, Van Damme looks damn weird with any kind of helmet on…he has a weird face like that. The naive look he gives you sometimes, that`s also something I always tried to ignore.
But I was too much of a fanboy to really pay attention to that. Now, it`s just one of the things I would like to cut out of every movie he did that in. But overall, he got to play a character with not depth, but versatility. A good role for him. The plot: Dead american soldiers re-animated for a secret special force- is something typical for B-movies, you must leave your brain at the door.
But once you accepted that, it was a great action concept, now copied a hundred times over…
Having Dolph Lundgren as the main villain was genius in hindsight, the fact that he accepted to star in a film not as the hero but the villain paid off.
He could be evil and go all nuts, showing a bit of acting abilities, although in the final fight there is one scene at the end that was really , really bad. But that aside, he was awesome as Sgt. Andrew Scott .
Basically, they both are Universal Soldiers, and both start to remember things from the past.
The last thing they remember is the altercation in Vietnam , when Scott went nuts and started executing prisoners at will, collecting his victims ears on a necklace .
Luc Deveraux(Van Damme ) intervened and they both got shot.
After a hostage rescue at the Hoover Dam, a female reporter is caught snooping around. She gets arrested , together with her cameraman. Scott does what he does best-execute people. Before he shoots Veronica(Ally Walker), Van Damme has a backflash and remembers a similar scene from Vietnam. He again stops Scott, which triggers his memories, too. Funny, that none of the other soldiers have those problems, but that´s the script…
Van Damme escapes from his duties as a Universal Soldier , together with Veronica and a manhunt begins. I`m sure most of you know the film anyway, right?
What follows, is a lot of fun. Van Damme plays his role a bit like a child, very naïve, but(almost) always able to protect Veronica. He slowly awakens from being a Universal Soldier, while they try to figure out how to keep him alive and who is behind it all.
Chased by a very angry Scott, who goes berserk, his only goal-to stop the traitor, with all means necessary.
There is a great chase sequence, lots of funny bits inbetween( I really loved Ally Walker in this), lots of shooting stuff and explosions, and a quite satisfying and brutal final fight. The film mixes everything very well, it`s funny, has action galore and a nice supporting cast. The remaining Unisols are all wellknown action or martial arts actors, from Simon Rhee to Tiny Lister to Ralph Moeller. I enjoyed Ed O`Ross(RED HEAT) quite a bit, he was a kickass Colonel.
I have seen this so often, I rarely put this on, but when I do , I realise that this is a very well-done action film, that stood the test of time. Sadly Emmerich went on to do films that are just blockbusters without much artistic merit, just FX spectacles. Not saying that Unisols is anything deep, it surely is not, but after Stargate, it was all about FX. I liked Independece Day back then, but I am in no hurry to watch it again. Same goes for Godzilla or what came after…
He is just another version of Michael Bay, and Michael Bay at least picks the better scripts, or franchises…the scripts aren`t anything worth talking about,lol.
Emmerich, a good, very talented guy, who wasted his talents on big, ridiculous blockbusters.
Seen them all, but have no desire to see them again, at all.
But Unisols is a solid actionfilm that delivers. And Dolph Lundgren has the best scenes in this, absolutely my favourite performance by Dolph. Sometimes, leading men look better in smaller roles. Certainly the case here. He steals the show. No wonder they cloned him for a sequel, after he was sorely missed in Universal Soldier 2.
If you haven`t watched it 50 times, like I sure as hell did, you may wanna revisit this fine piece of action cinema.
“Are we having fun yet?”…Yes, we do!!!